In Malaysia, scientists from the University of Cambridge discovered what they think could be the tallest recorded tropical tree. Found in the Sabah state’s “Lost World,” the Yellow Meranti tree is endangered, more commonly found in the computer game Minecraft than on Earth. At its tallest point, the tree is nearly 300 feet tall, just a little bit shorter than London’s Big Ben.
In collaborTION with the Sabah Forestry Department, the scientists found the tree using a LiDAR scanner carried by an airplane. It’s one thing to track down a tall tree and another entirely to measure just how tall it is. Unding Jami, local expert tree climber, scaled the tree with a tape measure to pin down its height. At the top he texted the scientists to let them know he was unable to take photographs because “there’s an eagle around that keeps trying to attack me and also lots of bees flying around.”
The new tree beat out another Malaysian Yellow Meranti for the record. Located on a slope, that tree is about 298 feet tall at its tallest point; higher on the slope it’s about 288 feet tall. It’s not the tallest tree in the world – that record still goes to a staggering 377-foot California redwood – but the scientists think it is “probably” the tallest tree in the tropics. According to scientist David Coomes, trees in temperate regions grow taller than tropical trees, but nobody knows why.
Yellow Meranti trees are endangered mainly due to logging at the hands of the palm oil industry. The Sabah government recently said it would attempt to restore an area near the newly discovered tree.
Coomes said, “Conserving these giants is really important. Some, like the California redwoods, are among the largest and longest-living organisms on earth. Huge trees are crucial for maintaining the health of the forest and its ecology.”
Via New Scientist
Images courtesy of Stephanie Law and the University of Cambridge